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Copyright 1982 Handicapped students have recently made great gains in receiving their rights. This has come at considerable cost to the public schools, both financial and psychic, because of the competition for limited resources. The handicapped movement shares many similarities with the civil-rights movement in this respect because gains are perceived by some to have been made at the expense of others.

It is with a certain irony that one realizes that the difficulties currently facing handicapped athletes do not spring as much from the implied costs of making changes as from antiquated rules and rigid minds. Programs are there; access to them is the issue.

I currently serve on the executive board of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, and only a few weeks ago we made a 19-year-old student eligible for competition. He had lost several years of schooling in the primary grades because of a handicapping condition but now is able to compete. We weighed the pros and cons. "Red shirting" came up as an issue and was dismissed. As educators, we had to use our judgment of what was in the best interest of the student and the sport. With that in mind, inclusion was the only answer.

Dr. Relic is correct. Schools are facing a deluge of challenges on this front. But it is important to remember that the challenges we face in reality are not so much legal as moral. Rules are made to be enforced. They are also made to be interpreted. Schools and athletic associations must recognize that legally and morally they are obligated to judge the merits of each case individually so that access is assured those who deserve it.

It is another of those tough jobs we face in education, but we are up to it.


Paul D. Houston Superintendent of Schools, Princeton Regional Schools Princeton, N.J.

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